Fri, 15 Mar 2013 02:00:02 GMT

Sonia Gandhi completes 15 years as Congress chief



New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The Congress party Thursday congratulated Sonia Gandhi, its longest serving president, for completing 15 long years in office.

"We felicitate Sonia Gandhi's continued effort and support in leading the party," Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko told reporters.

The Congress was founded Dec 28, 1885. It completed 127 years last year.

Several Congress leaders including Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla called on Gandhi at her residence.

"We thanked her for leading the party and strengthening it," Shukla said.

"All the MPs, MLAs (members of legislative assemblies) and ministers have praised her efforts for leading the party in tough times," he added.

Though some had planned to celebrate the occasion in a big way, Gandhi reportedly asked them to refrain from doing so keeping in mind the drought in some parts of the country.

Gandhi, who took office as Congress chief in 1998, led the party to victory in the 2004 Lok Sabha election, ending six years of rule by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

After rejecting the post of prime minister, she became chairperson of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Earlier, after the assassination of her husband and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, Sonia Gandhi declined to lead the Congress despite requests from party colleagues.

She campaigned for the Congress in 1998. The party lost both the 1998 and 1999 parliamentary elections.

Gandhi led the Congress to victory also in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. Her presidency expires in 2015.

©Indo-Asian News Service

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